You are currently browsing the daily archive for October 2, 2010.


 

Last week, I got in a taxi with a Polish driver. When he heard I was from Bulgaria, he told me the following joke:

Sometime in the early 1980s, elephants were a very fashionable topic in the Soviet Union. People were interested in elephant biology, elephant behavior, elephant popular culture, and even elephant literature. The USSR Academy of Sciences published a 10-volume encyclopedia on elephants. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences published an 11-volume encyclopedia on elephants: the 10 Russian volumes plus an eleventh called “The Bulgarian elephant: The Soviet Union’s best friend.”

I cracked up!

Not because the joke itself is that funny, but because it is very witty and insightful. The “joke” accurately captures the social and political pro-Soviet leanings Bulgarians had at the time.

 

One of the absurdities of the regime was that people could be pulling and pushing the elephant in opposite directions, and everyone was still doing exactly what they were supposed to do.

 

Hearing such a joke from a Polish was like hearing a dirty little joke that only you and someone very close to you can understand. It was like two roommates talking about the skeleton in their shared closet.

In fact Poles and Bulgarians are able to exchange such witty anecdotes because at a point in history, we were both heavily dependent on the Soviet Union. The social and political influence of the USSR was such a big common denominator, that it established a lot of similarities between the mindsets in our countries at the time. We were all part of the same overarching socialist system, recognized the same cultural symbols, encountered the same problems, etc.

This is valid even now, twenty years later, because we still remember or at least recognize the remnants of the Soviet culture. And this is valid for all countries influenced by the Soviets: from Poland and Lithuania, past Bulgaria and Ukraine, as far east as Tajikistan.  There simply are some universal elements from that time that all of us can in some way relate to: the Russian language, the vivid political imagery, the absurdities of the regime, the history that we’ve all studied, the general sense of order, and the disillusionment that followed.

So, what the taxi driver said is funny because it’s an inside joke. It tickles the sensitive cord that only peoples with shared historical influences have. Outsiders just don’t have the same skeletons in their closet.

I love this feeling of being part of a shared common pool of knowledge and experience. We might make biting jokes about each other, but ultimately, there is a piece of history deeply ingrained in our character that brings us together… and always makes for a good conversation starter.

Advertisements

Enter your email address to subscribe to Zikata's blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 73 other followers

Follow me on Twitter!

Share this Blog

Share |
October 2010
M T W T F S S
« Sep   Nov »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Read it? Rate it!

RSS Getting curious:

  • ViacomCBS has a role to play in the NFL's youth movement
    Welcome to another edition of Ad Age Sports Media Brief, a weekly roundup of news from every zone of the sports media spray chart, including the latest on broadcast/cable/streaming, sponsorships, endorsements, gambling and tech. Young Guns The NFL isn’t expected to officially begin renegotiating its media rights contracts until after it locks in a new collec […]
  • Little Caesars is hot-n-ready for a new creative agency
    Following the collapse of Barton F. Graf, Little Caesars has opened a review to find a new creative agency of record, people close to the business tell Ad Age. According to two people, Goodby Silverstein & Partners is pitching the business alongside three other undisclosed agencies. GS&P did not return multiple requests for comment. The review is bei […]
  • Agencies and Brands skip work, donate ad space for Global Climate Strike
    Employees at ad agencies, tech companies and brands skipped work today to join the Global Climate Strike, a protest of government and corporate inaction on climate change. Today's strike, scheduled just ahead of the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York, is the third event in a series of global protests that began with student walkouts last year. New Y […]
  • Agency Brief: Leo Burnett Chicago makes employee cuts as industry readies for Advertising Week New York
    Shrinking client budgets are continuing to put pressure on creative agencies, and Leo Burnett is the latest to take a hit. This month, the agency’s Chicago office let go at least four creatives working on its Allstate account, according to one senior person affected by the cuts. That person tells Ad Age the decision was due to the client cutting back on its […]
  • Google rolls out massive shakeup to ad biz
    Google’s top ad chief is shaking up the company’s organizational structure, which will impact everything from consumer privacy, ad fraud, measurement, as well as how ads are bought and sold.  Prabhakar Raghavan, who oversees the company’s $100 billion advertising business, is spearheading the effort following  Sridhar Ramaswamy departure as the senior VP of […]

Your Green Eyes

Ad

Advertisements